5 Common Government Accountant Interview Questions & Answers

Kellie Hanna, CPRW By Kellie Hanna, CPRW, Career Advice Expert Last Updated: May 25, 2023

You need a strong educational and professional background to achieve a position as a government accountant, but even a stellar resume highlighting your qualifications and knowledge is only half the battle. The interview is essential for allowing the interviewer to get to know your personality and approach to your job. In many cases, the results of an interview clinch the deal.

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Just as you would prepare for a sporting event, it is important to put sufficient thought and intention into getting ready for your interview. Below are government accountant interview questions that go in-depth in giving you a fuller picture of what to expect at an interview. Many people are familiar with general questions about education, background and qualifications, but the interviewer wants to know how well-versed you are in the field and what you can contribute that is unique. The interview helps you distinguish what you have to offer from other candidates and can put you a step ahead when it comes to landing the job.

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5 Government Accountant Interview Questions & Answers

How do you vary your approach between special purpose government audits and corporation audits?

In my career as an accountant, I have undertaken a large number of audits and have learned that the purpose of the audit is a major determining factor that decides how the audit is performed. Every now and again, a company will want to fine tune their financial operations, and for that, they need a clear picture of their financial health. I go through all of the records to help managers see a full picture of exactly how much the company is making and how resources are being used. Now and again, the managers want me to look for irregularities, and I’m always on the look-out for red flags. For a special purpose government audit, the main focus is to comply with set guidelines. I have a sharp eye for detail and spot inconsistencies and ensure that everything on the records complies with current tax laws.

What are some "red flags" you look for prior to a decision to audit?

I take a systematic approach to looking at tax and financial records, which requires organization and attention to detail. Because of a consistent way of doing my work, I am able to spot things that don’t make sense. An obvious reason to audit involves mathematical errors. This doesn’t necessarily signal a desire to conceal, but if there are several, I take note. In addition, if a business or individual doesn’t seem to be able to function on the amount of income reported or if there are generous deductions, I take a closer look. In addition, smaller and newer businesses are likely to make mistakes and require attention if some numbers don’t match.

What is your approach to advising public agencies on the use of funds?

Public agencies are entrusted by the public and use public funds for their operations. There is a sense of responsibility that goes along with dealing with documents and playing an advisory role to public organizations. Private sector businesses can generally do what they like with the money they earn after taxes, but it is a completely different matter with public funds. It is incumbent on a government accountant that they keep accurate records of transactions and ways funds are used. In case there is in investigation on the use of funds, all of the information has to be available, current and intact, and I take this responsibility seriously.

As an accountant, you know that mistakes can be costly. How do you keep track of details?

Checking and double checking is essential to make sure that data is accurate. I also keep abreast of current tax laws to encourage implementation and compliance. Running records through several rounds of checking and having efficient software are important for accurate accounting. When there are difficulties, it is essential to clear them up right away and make sure that all information is up-to-date.

What are your long-term career goals?

I envision spending the next few years continuing to hone my skills and add to my expertise as a government accountant. With that extra experience, I can be useful in serving in an advisory role to companies and individuals and contribute my knowledge to the development of software that makes accurate record keeping easier.